Canada eliminates National Science Advisor post
Posted: 30 January 2008 12:57 PM   [ Ignore ]
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Article: No science in the PM’s ear: Canada dismisses National Science Adviser at its peril

This is a sad day in a country that normally prides itself (not always accurately!!) on being progressive. PM Harper has eliminated science’s seat at the policy table. Facts that are objective (at least in comparison to political opinion) will no longer have any influence in steering the most important decisions in this country. It’s unfortunate that the input from our National Science Advisor (a post we only had for a few short years) is no longer seen as a positive contributor but a pesky voice whispering in the PM’s ear about what is really going on.

The reality based community loses another voice…

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“If you want the truth to stand clear before you, never be for or against. The struggle between “for” and “against” is the mind’s worst disease.”
- Sent-ts’an

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Posted: 30 January 2008 11:52 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 1 ]
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This is depressing news.  I recall a recent “Point of Inquiry” wherein it was conveyed that until at least a couple of generations ago, it was considered a mark of pride and good citizenship to have a basic knowledge of science.

I wonder where the sense of wonder has gone?  Just now it occurs to me that the non-interactivity and passive “explorations” of reality offered by television play a large part in diminishing a more visceral, reality-based investigation of the world.

In any case, nations and cultures who ignore reality, especially the reality of the natural world, do so at their own peril.  Nature will extract a price for ignorance eventually.  Hopefully, governments will learn from the inevitable lessons, and hopefully they won’t be fatal.

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Posted: 31 January 2008 06:55 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 2 ]
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Science is overrated in Canada. As long as we are really nice to each other we should be just fine. Just this week the Toronto District School Board approved a proposal to create the city’s first Afrocentric public school. Now the young generation of black kids will get to experience what it was like for their grandparents to be separated from the rest of the society.  So, no, tscott, our politicians are clearly not interested in learning any lessons. Be nice, get reelected, bla, bla, bla,.... politicians make me sick.

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Posted: 31 January 2008 07:22 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 3 ]
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downer
And to what George said too!
downer

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Posted: 31 January 2008 09:16 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 4 ]
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Oh no, Canadians are going to become as dumb as Americans.

There’s nowhere to run.

AHAhahahahaaa…..

psik

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Posted: 31 January 2008 09:22 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 5 ]
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George - 31 January 2008 06:55 AM

Science is overrated in Canada. As long as we are really nice to each other we should be just fine.

Sounds like an excuse for group-hugs and love-ins.  smile

[quote author=“George”]Just this week the Toronto District School Board approved a proposal to create the city’s first Afrocentric public school. Now the young generation of black kids will get to experience what it was like for their grandparents to be separated from the rest of the society. 

Oh… my… gods….  Though this makes me reconsider a consideration I’d considered a considerable time ago.  Namely, that each generation of decision-makers wishes to show their competency and creativity by innovating, or at the very least by changing the way things are done.  Too often, all this leads to is a cyclic repetition of prior methods, even if said prior methods were of dubious value.

[quote author=“George”]Just So, no, tscott, our politicians are clearly not interested in learning any lessons. Be nice, get reelected, bla, bla, bla,.... politicians make me sick.

That’s one of the reasons that, in my looming dotage, I’ve been pursuing a Master’s in political science.  It occurred to me that knowing about the way the universe works is all well and good, and can provide some modicum of self-satisfaction.  But putting the knowledge into effect to better the lives of one’s fellow man (not to mention one’s self) requires political support, prioritization, action, oversight and debate.  Nothing gets done by people outside of a political context of some form.  Politics of itself isn’t a bad thing; it’s another way to label (much of) social action, illumination and behavioral norms.

Politicians in our democracies, who must cultivate votes to survive, are in a strange bind.  Their primary self-interested motivation is to placate, or even reward their constituency (pork-barrels anyone?) in order to garner votes.  It is in our politician’s best interest to keep their constituency dumbed-down and thus, easy to please and ready to vote.  Sadly, most people are all too happy being dumb.  We can’t just blame the politicians though - in a free market and a liberal democracy citizens make choices about what to do and learn.  Mediocrity, idiocy and trivial effort is most people’s easiest, first choice.

Thomas Jefferson, with whom I have a love/hate relationship, noticed this early on.  He was a strident proponent of mass education in the natural sciences.  He recognized that a prerequisite for a well-functioning and wise democracy, forestalling its becoming a whimsical mob rule, was education.  Unfortunately, too much education these days involves pursuing the dry recitation of facts and foregone conclusions instead of the tools of skeptical inquiry. 

I am saddened that our government is not constituted of the best and wisest among us; but I’m not surprised.

As Churchill said, “No one pretends that democracy is perfect or all-wise. Indeed, it has been said that democracy is the worst form of government except all those other forms that have been tried from time to time.”

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